Lodestar Minerals: stalking the billion-footed beast at Earaheedy

“The more information we get, the better the whole project looks.”

So says Ed Turner, Managing Director of Perth-based Lodestar Minerals (ASX:LSR), which owns — among a couple of others — the expansive Earaheedy Project in central Western Australia.

Spanning some 1,420km-square, Earaheedy is a sizeable landholding — a fact which presents both challenges and opportunities for Turner and his team. It’s for this reason Lodestar has been increasingly trimming its operations in order to give the project the attention it deserves, and although Turner acknowledges the company has no small amount of work to do, things appear to be taking shape.

“It’s a bloody big area for a small company. We expect by the second half of the year to understand it twice as well as we already do

“It’s a bloody big area for a small company. We expect by the second half of the year to understand it twice as well as we already do,” Turner says.

“I said before, it’s like having a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, and we started off with about 950 pieces missing. Now we’ve collected a few hundred pieces more, but we’ve still got a long way to go.”

Earaheedy in the cross-hairs

Earlier this year, Lodestar announced the discovery of 16 new base metal targets at the Earaheedy Project, based on 4,650 first-pass soil samples collected in 2023 and 1,955 the year before.

Open to — as Turner says — “multiple opportunities and styles of mineralisation,” Lodestar assayed each sample for a suite of 60 elements, including potential pathfinders which could be associated with certain types of mineralisation.

“Identifying 16 large base metal anomalies is really satisfying, the combination of copper, lead, zinc, and cobalt. That gives us a lot of confidence,” he adds.

“All the elements behave differently in the weathering profile. Some are more soluble than others, so sometimes they get dispersed. Gold can easily get dispersed, so you don’t necessarily get a gold anomaly where there’s a gold deposit at depth. We have other associated elements which we look at as pathfinders as well. That’s why we do such a large suite of elements, and same with the base metal mineralisation.”

But the areas sampled at Earaheedy account for just half of the total project area, and will require additional infill work if the geochemical results are to be properly understood. Drilling activities, on the other hand, “still only represent quite a small area.”

In early November 2023, Lodestar announced the discovery of gold and base metal mineralisation following the completion of a 22-hole reverse circulation (RC) drilling program, which was designed to follow-up on several gold and copper intersections from an earlier aircore (AC) campaign.

A stand-out result from the RC program measured 8m at 1.05 grams per tonne (g/t) gold, including a smaller intercept of 4m at 1.73g/t gold.

Since then, Lodestar has undertaken a maiden 3-hole diamond drilling program — including another 300m RC hole — which, according to an announcement in late January, confirmed the steep orientation of gold and copper mineralisation at Earaheedy.

“We hit significant mineralisation in that drilling last year, but it’s not necessarily the best part of the project. It was what, at the time, we considered worthy drill targets, and we’ve hit something there,” Turner says.

“But instead of rushing back in and just continuing to further drill those areas where we’ve hit mineralisation, we need to look at these other target areas as well, because they could be better, ultimately. We don’t know at this stage. 

“What’s really good is now we’ve got a lot more geological knowledge from the drilling, we can incorporate that with the geochemistry and the geophysics to help us define the next round of drill targets. Basically, we need to integrate all of this information, and before we didn’t have that third dimension, which is the drilling at depth. Now we have some of that information and we can make more sense of the anomalies and the geophysical targets.”

Indeed, the Earaheedy Project covers a good deal of land with a good deal of targets, which is by extension a good deal of work for Lodestar’s modestly-sized team to get through. The company has therefore been slimming down, cutting out non-essential aspects of its portfolio in exchange for the freedom and capital to do Earaheedy justice.

A leaner, more focused approach

In October 2023, Lodestar announced the “commercially confident” dissolution of a joint venture with Vango Mining, after Vango was acquired by Catalyst Metals (ASX:CYL) in March that year. Though both companies have retained their respective tenements at the Ned’s Creek Project in Western Australia, Lodestar also landed itself a package of funds owed to it under the JV agreement — estimated in a previous announcement to be almost $800,000.

“We were paid back money they owed us because Catalyst . . . wants to focus on their actual mining rather than exploration, so they weren’t really interested in continuing with the joint venture. And that’s fine, the best ground is in our tenements. So they took back their tenements and we kept ours,” Turner says.

“I’d like to divest (Ned’s Creek) to focus on Earaheedy, because Earaheedy’s got a lot more upside, I think. Ned’s Creek has some really good gold hits, which Lodestar has made over the last 12 years. But I really can’t justify spending money on that in front of the Earaheedy Project.”

At roughly the same time, Lodestar announced the surrender of its Jubilee Well Project — a standalone tenement in WA — while its Coolgardie West Project, which is currently under application, is progressing well.

“That’s close to grant, actually,” Turner adds. 

“We finally got the heritage agreement just recently, the draft heritage agreement. So if we sign that, we can get that granted fairly soon.”

But the process of slimming down has been an exercise in financing as much as it’s been one of prioritising focus.

Funding ‘all our exploration at Earaheedy’

In August last year, Lodestar sold its 20% stake in the Kangaroo Hills Lithium Project to Future Battery Minerals (ASX:FBM) — which now owns 100% of the project — for $500,000 in staged cash payments plus a package of FBM shares, including performance rights.

The 19.3 million shares — valued at more than $1.15 million based on FBM’s share price of $0.06 on Monday — along with the 27.5 million options represent a handy little war chest with which Lodestar can chase its goals.

“We’re planning to use those shares to fund all our exploration at Earaheedy. We’re just waiting for their share price,” Turner explains.

We’re planning to use those shares to fund all our exploration at Earaheedy. We’re just waiting for their share price

“They took a bit of a hit like everyone else in the lithium space, but we expect that to rebound fairly soon because they’ll be back drilling in the next few weeks, I think. Now that they’ve got that environmental permit, they’ll get the drill permit probably in the next week or so. Once they’re back on the ground, I expect their shares to rebound. So we do plan to sell some of those shares, but we think we can get a much higher price in the next month or so.

“And like I said, there’s another 27.5 million options which will convert to fully paid shares upon them proving up a resource. They’re very confident that they’ll do that this year.”

‘It’s starting to come together’

Each time Mining.com.au speaks to Turner and the Lodestar team, the Earaheedy Project seems more of a focus. The growing emphasis is perhaps testament to the size of the opportunity at the project, particularly given its proximity to other major assets in the surrounding area, like Rumble Resources’ (ASX:RTR) Chinook deposit and Sandfire Resources’ (ASX:SFR) DeGrussa operation.

And while Turner acknowledges there are large swaths of Earaheedy still left to test, he’s confident that the exploration techniques deployed to date seem to be working.

“Really, the soil geochemistry shows that we’re getting zinc anomalies in the right location, where we’ve got the same geological setting as Chinook,” he says.

“We’re on the other side of the basin. All along the southern margin of our tenements — and when you look at the images, you will see all these anomalous areas have been outlined — they’re the most prospective for zinc, lead, and silver. That reinforces that MVT (Mississippi Valley-type) model, which is Chinook. 

“And then we’re getting copper anomalies in other locations, which are more like the DeGrussa-style VMS (volcanogenic massive sulphide) mineralisation, associated with copper and gold, basically. So we’re getting anomalies spread right across our project area, not just in one area.”

For the time being, it’s all a matter of process; going through the necessary steps in order to define promising targets. And while it’s a process that — given the size of the Earaheedy Project — could take years, “it’s starting to come together.”

Write to Oliver Gray at Mining.com.au

Images: Lodestar
Author Image
Written By Oliver Gray
Originally from Perth, Oliver has a keen interest long-form journalism. He has written for a number of publications and was most recently Contributing Editor of The Market Herald’s opinion section, Art of the Essay.